PEP & PrEP
PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) is emergency medicine that may stop you developing an HIV infection if you’ve been exposed to the virus. PEP is available at cliniQ, most large sexual health clinics and A&E departments. There is more info about PEP on our PEP PAGE.
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, and it is a way of preventing HIV infection by taking medication on an ongoing basis. It works by stopping the virus from entering cells and replicating. Thus, preventing HIV infection. It is made up of the antiretroviral drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine, which come in a single blue pill called Truvada.
PrEP has been available in the United States since 2012, but is not currently available on the NHS. 56 Dean Street are able to prescribe PrEP at the cost of the drug. We know many people who find this unaffordable have been accessing the drug online from overseas. There are a number of community websites who are supporting people to do this as safely as possible, including Prepster and IWantPrEPNow.
If you want to talk to someone about PEP or PrEP you can walk into cliniQ every Wednesday evening from 5pm to 7pm – there is no need to book an appointment.
PrEP & Trans People
PrEP is thought to be effective protection from HIV for trans women, but more studies would be useful. New analysis of a large, international study called iPrEX has looked more closely at the experiences of more than 300 trans women involved in the trial. “While this analysis did not include a large enough sample group to draw firm conclusions, we did find strong evidence pointing to efficacy,” said principal investigator Robert Grant from the University of California at San Francisco. “Additional research designed specifically for transgender women is needed to confirm this finding.”
To date, no non-binary people or trans men have been included in clinical trials of PrEP. What we know so far is that for protective levels of the drug to be reached in both the blood and the rectum, PrEP needs to be taken daily for 4 to 7 days. For non-trans women, it takes up to three weeks for protective levels to be reached in the vagina and the cervix. None of the research evidence we have currently takes into account men who may be having receptive vaginal AND anal sex. It also doesn’t account for trans men’s experience of vaginal atrophy; a shrinking and thinning of the vaginal walls, which can occur during testosterone therapy.
If you think that PrEP is something you would like to add to your ‘sexual health toolkit’ Prepster have a great range of suggestions on how best to spread the word, and demand access for PrEP on the NHS.